Topics: Land, Tainui

Carvings restored as a symbol of Waikato chiefs mana

By Leah Te Whata
  • Auckland
  • Waikato/Bay of Plenty
  • Wellington

Four pou were rededicated today at the Auckland Domain. A symbol of Waikato Chief Pōtatau Te Wherowhero's power in Tāmaki Makau Rau.

Kiingitanga spokesperson Rāhui Papa says, “The carvings face out towards the four trade winds which are representative of the way that Te Wherowhero guarded Auckland against invasion by any other iwi.”

Ngāti Whātua representative Renata Blair adds that “The relationship between Ngāti Whātua and the Kiingitanga is historical.”

Pōtatau Te Wherowhero was the first Māori King. He lived as the protector of Auckland at Pukekawa, a site of significance to Māori that is now known as the Auckland Domain.

Rāhui Papa spoke of the relationship between Pōtatau Te Wherowhero and prominent Ngāti Toa Rangatira/Ngāti Raukawa chief Te Rauparahā at the rededication this morning. He said that "Te Rauparahā was brought up here and he was imprisoned on a hulk in the middle of the Waitemata Harbour. Te Wherowhero petitioned Governer Grey to release Te Rauparahā into his care here at Pukekawa."

The original carvings were done by master Waikato carver Piri Poutapu and protect a sacred tōtara tree planted by Princess Te Puea Herangi on the first centenary of the Treaty of Waitangi.

The Auckland City Council commissioned Ngāti Kahu master carver Alan Nopera to restore the carvings, he told Te Kāea that he would like to see the carvings accompanied by background information so that everybody can understand their meaning and significance.

Nopera says that "You will see those carvings on meeting houses and on the edges of canoes they represent the children of Rangi and Papatūānuku."

Pukekawa or the Auckland Domain is a sacred place to Māori, but what about everyone else?

Rāhui Papa told Te Kāea that, “This is a sacred place. There are ancestral remains buried here so we need to think about how these spaces can be identified by the general public as areas of significance in the same way that we do.”

Ngāti Whātua and Waikato/Tainui want to continue dialogue with the Council regarding the promotion of Waikato, Ngāti Whātua and Ngāti Pāoa’s history. Papa believes that there should be more public knowledge around landmarks of cultural significance.